As if the wall-to-wall television commercials weren’t a sufficiently clear signal, the election season is warming up.
With absentee ballots hitting the mail this week and the voter registration book closing Tuesday, the Supervisor of Elections Office has entered action mode.
“We are on pace to have a pretty good turnout,” said Supervisor of Elections John Hanlon in reference to next month’s general election.
Just over four weeks.
“Right at this time things are really ramping up,” Hanlon said.
The voter registration book closes 5 p.m. ET Tuesday, 29 days prior to the election date.
This is for new voter registrations or party changes, though, as Hanlon noted; address or other minor changes to a voter registration can be made right up until election day, Hanlon added.
But to vote in the general election, you must be accurately registered with Hanlon’s office by end-of-business Tuesday.
Eligible voters may register in person at Hanlon’s office, 401 Long Ave. in Port St. Joe, or go online to www.votegulf.com.
Absentee or mail ballots started going out this week.
Hanlon said his office already had more than 900 requests for absentee ballots and that number is likely to grow.
“That will increase the closer we get to the election,” Hanlon said.
This is also an election cycle that sees the first steps in additional security at the Elections Office.
Hanlon this year received grant funding to bolster election security.
Of the planned improvements, the most significant item, an “Albert” server, in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security, is in place.
That server monitors every electronic message which exits or attempts to enter the firewall for the Supervisor of Elections.
“We get daily updates and it will provide indications for any potential threat or problem,” Hanlon said.
Hanlon said he sees a busy general election.
There are heated state races for governor and U.S. Senate, as well Commissioner of Agriculture and Attorney General.
A whopping 13 amendments to the Florida Constitution are also before voters for consideration.
And, Hanlon said, there are local races for three seats to the Board of County Commissioners.
In District 1, incumbent Commissioner David Rich, a Republican, is facing Democrat John Nagy and William Lawson, who is running without party affiliation.
That election is for a two-year term.
The District 1 seat returns to its typical rotation in 2020.
The other two BOCC races are for four-year terms.
Commissioner Ward McDaniel, a Democrat, faces challenges for his District 2 seat from Tom Semmes, a Republican, and Josh Taunton, running without party affiliation.
And in District 4, Commissioner Sandy Quinn, Jr., a Democrat, is facing challenges from Ronald Pickett and Amy Rogers, both running without party affiliation.
Election Day is Nov. 6.
Early voting will begin Oct. 27 and continue through Nov. 3 at two locations, Hanlon’s office in Port St. Joe and the Wewahitchka Public Library.
Saturday voting hours are 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. ET and Sunday voting will be 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. ET.
Early voting will be 7:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.